Evolution of a Theme

With the panel behind me and the premiere of In-Lawfully Yours just a few short weeks away, I thought it might be a good time to pull back the curtain a bit and explain how we landed on the theme music for this film. During the panel, a question I was asked was “how do you deal with rejection?” It’s a good question because no matter how good you are, your music will be rejected at some point. In this film, the creative powers of the film had a different vision of what romantic comedy music sounded like, so it was a fun challenge to navigate multiple opinions and write something that works for everyone. The answer I gave at the panel was advice that the great Mike Post gave to me. He said the hardest job you will have as a composer is writing something that pleases both the folks who hired you and yourself at the same time. If you’re not happy with your own music, you haven’t done your job right. But, if you write something that pleases everyone, including yourself, then rejection is easy. Even if you had to write 10 versions, you were happy with each one, so it didn’t matter which they picked. That always stuck with me.


With this film, we didn’t land on the final theme right away. It took a few revisions. As you listen, you will hear certain parts from the previous version carry over into to the new one. We didn’t go back to the drawing board each time. Instead, we took the parts we like and evolved the theme into its next form until we landed on the final theme. (NOTE: These early drafts were not mastered and will be a little quiet. The final theme has been mastered and will be louder than the others.)


Draft 1: This was the first idea that popped into my head that I fleshed out into a demo for the production team.



The team liked the vibe, but wasn’t happy with the overall theme. They asked me to keep the mellowness and lightness but come up with something new.  However, the music from 1:24-1:41 made its way into the final movie anyway. Never delete anything! You never know when it will be needed.

Draft 2: New theme idea, new bouncy section highlighting my vision for what ‘comedy’ sounded like and new instrumentation.



This got us closer. They weren’t sure about this theme, but from 18-32 they really enjoyed. At 32 when the comedy area started, it was a maybe. On to a slightly modified version.

Draft 3: They asked me to mellow out the main theme, keep the segment they liked and try something new for comedy.



In the end, they decided that the main theme wasn’t working. The comedy they enjoyed, so they asked me to hold off on any more comedy and focus on the main theme. It really needed to fit the main character Jesse.

Draft 4: New main theme and crossed fingers.



And there it was. The production team was happy with everything! Slowly but surely, all the material they wanted evolved through these drafts into the final product. Here is a short finished track from the film so you can hear how it finally ended up.

Production-Ready Track (This one is louder)




I hope you enjoyed this look behind the scenes. As the film gets closer, expect more posts. Until next time!

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